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Goa crisis: Arun Jaitley defends BJP, says governor could not have invited 17 Congress MLAs to form govt

New Delhi: Dismissing the accusation of Congress that BJP was 'stealing' mandate in Goa, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said it's "a bit too much" as the governor could not have invited minority of 17 MLAs to form the government.

"The Congress Party complains a bit too much. It accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of 'stealing' the mandate in Goa. It unsuccessfully petitioned before the supreme court. It attempted to raise issues in the Lok Sabha," he said in a Facebook post.

In view of the claim of 21 MLAs led by Manohar Parrikar, the Governor could not have invited the minority of 17 MLAs to form the government, he said, adding that "there are several precedents which support this decision of the Governor".

In the recently held assembly elections in Goa, BJP bagged 13 seats, while Congress got 17 seats in a house with a strength of 40. However, BJP staked claim to form the government on the basis of support from eight other MLAs.

Governor Mridula Sinha had invited Parrikar to form the government after he produced letter of support of 21 MLAs.

Earlier in the day, the supreme court refused to stay the swearing in of Parrikar as the Chief Minister of Goa and ordered a floor test on 16 March.

Accusing the Governor of acting in a partisan manner, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today told reporters: "In the two states where we won, democracy has been undermined by them (BJP) using financial power, money. That is what is happening. The mandate of the people of Goa and Manipur has been stolen by the BJP."

 Goa crisis: Arun Jaitley defends BJP, says governor could not have invited 17 Congress MLAs to form govt

Arun Jaitley. PTI

Jaitley responded by saying that the Goa Governor had only one claim of 21 MLAs out of 40 elected MLAs with Manohar Parrikar as their leader, while the 17 MLAs of Congress did not even make a claim nor elected their leader.

"How could the Congress ever be invited to form the government?" Jaitley questioned.

Jaitley said the debate between the largest single party lacking majority versus a combination of parties constituting a majority was answered by the former President KR Narayanan in his communique in March 1988 when he invited Atal Behari Vajpayee to form the government.

"The President had said when no party or pre-election alliance of parties is in a clear majority, the Head of State has in India or elsewhere, given the first opportunity to the leader of the party or combination of parties that won largest number of seats subject to the Prime Ministers so appointed obtaining majority support on the floor of the house within a stipulated time," Jaitley said.

"This procedure is not, however, all time formula because situations can arise where MPs not belonging to the single largest party or combination can, as a collective entity, out-number the single largest claimant. The President's choice of Prime Minister is pivoted on the would be Prime Minister's claim of commanding majority support," he pointed out.

Citing several precedents which support the Goa governor's decision, Jaitley noted that BJP won 30 out of 81 seats in Jharkhand in 2005 but the JMM leader Shibu Soren with a support of 17 MLAs of his Party plus others was invited to form the government.

Similarly, Jaitley said, in J&K in 2002, the National Conference won 28 MLAs but the Governor invited the PDP and Congress Combination of 15 + 21 MLAs to form the government. Also, In 2013 the BJP won 31 seats in Delhi, but the AAP with 28 MLAs with support of Congress was invited to form the Government, he said.

The minister pointed out that there are other precedents on the same lines available in 1952 (Madras), 1967 (Rajasthan) and 1982 (Haryana).

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Updated Date: Mar 14, 2017 17:01:55 IST